What Did Jesus *Really* Want from the Apostles?
(Posted April 14, 1021)
What are you most afraid of? I’ve often been amused when watching any of the numerous paranormal shows on TV that the very people who chose ghost hunting as a hobby/profession are the most likely to go running from a room when they think they’ve seen one. This puzzles me. That’s what you came here to do, and yet when you find it, you scream like a banshee and run?
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What the Apostles Feared
But this Sunday’s gospel has to do with a bunch of scared men fearing for their lives, behind locked doors, who lose it when the Messiah they love the most does a post-resurrection walk through a wall and says casually, “Peace be with you.”
They of course, since they haven’t accepted Jesus’ triumph over death, think he’s a ghost. I can imagine Jesus sighing at their unbelieving shock and fear, I imagine him saying, “I TOLD you I’d be back after three days ... what’s the fuss about?” To them he’s a menacing wraith that has invaded their hiding space.
What Did Jesus Want?
Jesus, who knows all about the beliefs of first century dwellers, realizes that they think that no ghost can eat food. So he asks the apostles, “What’s for lunch?” It’s not that he had a hankering for a Filet O’ Fish after three days in the tomb. Jesus was hungry, but not for food. He ate the broiled fish they gave him to prove to them that he was a real, solid human being who just happened to be resurrected from the dead – and bringing believers assurance of eternal life.
What Did Jesus Really Want?
What Jesus was really hungry for was that they would be witnesses. He hungered for believers who would go forth and proclaim; witnesses whose eyes he had opened by showing them that no locked door full of their fear could stop him, not any more than a boulder that had sealed a tomb. Jesus needed witnesses so the rest of the world would see and hear the life-changing miracle that God had provided humanity.
What Do Ghosts Tell Us?
It’s still true today, about “ghosts” and the assurance Jesus gives. Author Andrew Smith has said, “Ghosts are never just ghosts; they provide us with an insight into what haunts our culture.” What fears are you hiding from behind the locked door of your heart? We live in a culture bedeviled by fear of death from pestilence. We live in fear of blind prejudice that hates, maims or kills people of color, Asians in America, and vulnerable elderly. And we certainly have learned in these past weeks of court testimony how vitally important witnesses are.
So what ghosts are hidden behind your locked door? I can guarantee that they are all based on the primal human fear: Death. This is, of course, the one fear Jesus assures us he washed away with his Resurrection. But even today, as some of us face a cancer diagnosis, or chronic illness, even as we see ourselves age, even as we try to raise upstanding children and youth in a hate-filled world, we still cower behind those locked doors. What Jesus is asking each of us today is to boldly touch and see, to have faith that the promise of eternal life was not just for Jesus, but for you and me as well. This weekend we will do our best to “exorcise” those ghosts behind the doors of your heart.